Zero Waste Refashion: Turn Ugly Dress Into A Fab Skirt – Eco Fashion Sewing

Zero Waste Refashion: Turn Ugly Dress Into A Fab Skirt

By Mariana Kirova

This zero waste refashion shows how to transform a knitted ugly-duckling dress into a 'wow' show-stopping skirt. Upcycling old clothes has great potential to make truly unique new styles to love and wear. This one is one of my favourite!

Just look for an ugly ill-fitted fine sweater knit dress with long sleeves and create this easy to make fab one-of-a-kind skirt - check out the video below and have fun!

The Initial Dress

I know many of you may be with me on this one... what a terrible feeling is to realise how awful a dress looks on you getting home after shopping and trying it. Have you ever made such a stupid mistake? I loved this dress so much at the shop and really wanted it to look good on me.

The dress was an eco-friendly natural material (it's wool) and it wouldn't going to harm the environment if in some mysterious way had ended up on the landfill. Tick. It was going to keep me warm in winter. Tick. It was fine, very soft, comfortable and hugging material. It was one of my favourite colours. Yay! Tick. Tick. 

Everything was looking bright so I couldn't resist and instantly purchased even without trying (I never do that usually). But... that changed dramatically when I tried it at home.

Frankly, I don't recall purchasing anything else that looks so bad on me. Strangely though, I've never loved a material so much at the same time...

Where I Got The Idea How To Rework It

In 2017 I took on the challenge to design my own upcycled collection for the first Eco Fashion Week Australia. Until then I have never perceived myself as a creative person. I always thought I'm just a neat sewists and that's it. When I was studying fashion design a lot of the girls in the class were absolutely creative and I admired them thinking I'm just not like them. If you relate to that and think you are 'not a designer' you must watch this video.

After deciding to design my own collection, I challenged my creative skills even more. I picked an interesting in my opinion 'upcycling technique' and took the decision to create most of the pieces by using that same method. If you are wondering what I'm talking about this video explains what it is. 

So, I named my collection after the method, I called it 'Upside-Down'. You can see the rest of the designs in here. The skirt in the video below is one of the collection pieces.

It Became A Fab Show-Stopper Skirt

After the show, the skirt quickly became one of my favourite to wear! Back then when I was reworking it I din't know it will but now it doesn't surprise me at all. Originally, I loved the colour and the fabric so much that it seems natural after fixing the design to become one of my favourite.

Therefore, whenever possible refashion materials and colours you initially like. The chances of wearing it after being reworked would be greater.

Going back to the skirt, the most fun part is to seeing people's reaction when I demonstrate it on presentations. Usually the audience just can't stop looking and thinking it over and over saying what a clever transformation is.

And I agree. It's an accidental, easy and clever refashion born by re-thinking the garment from a new, fresh perspective; without cutting out initial elements, therefore, a zero waste as well.

Check it out in the video below. I hope it will inspire you to make one for yourself! 


Video Content:

  • 00:23 – Why this is a Zero Waste refashion and why I bought it initially 
  • 01:02 – The new design and how ended up on the runway of a fashion show
  • 01:45 – The details: Hem turned into a waistband (how-to on making waistband with a double and a single-layered hem of the initial garment)
  • 03:33 – The new role of the sleeves to adjust length and keep versatile length options
  • 04:50 – Turn the initial 'add-ons' into fab new feature
  • 05:17 – How to finish the undone pocket by using 'lettuce hem'
  • 05:50 – Styling the new design
Mariana Kirova

Mariana is passionate about garment upcycling and helping others making their own upcycled clothing. Graduated with Award in garment construction from WAIFT, Perth WA, Mariana is not a main stream eco fashion designer. She makes unique eco-friendly garments from unwanted clothes and materials and believes that small fashion professionals and DIY sewers can embrace sustainability in garment creation, thus changing the fashion world for good.